Last Updated: 05/03/2017
 
Be Careful Choosing Who Drafts Your Trust Documents

Who Should I Avoid For Drafting My  Arizona Living Trust?

Our Arizona Attorney General has warned citizens in the past about unlicensed salesman and/or financial planners who want to create your living trust. Though it is not illegal to use them (who then have a connection to a lawyer somewhere behind the scene as trust ghost writer), be careful as many just want to see how much money you have so they can sell you annuities, viaticals, or other investments that may not be best suited to your investment needs. 

Normally, the products they show you will be on the "high" end for commissions in their pocket!  (Which means you probably are over paying them if you do business with them!) Just remember, that by doing the trust with them, you WILL expose ALL of your assets to them.  So, choose wisely!

Here are a few of the "types" of trust salesman that may be out to get your legal documents business:

First: The "Jacked Up" Trust Salesman

A jacked up salesman could sell you anything!The worst group to stay away from are the "jacked up" salesman and so-called financial planners (they will sometimes use designations that are not professionally recognized) that are connected to "trust mills" that usually give inflated quotations of what it costs to go through probate in Arizona. 

These programs are designed to scare you into buying a living trust at a high fee based on False Evidence Appearing Real.  Yes, good old  F.E.A.R. has probably sold more trusts to our senior population than any other tactic.  Just don't become another one of those victims.  This site will help you steer clear.

You can identify these programs because they are extremely high priced. That way the salesman can make a good commission by splitting the fee with the lawyer or document preparer who actually is drafting the documents.  You will NOT be able to talk to the actual document preparer/lawyer for your questions in most cases.  And worst, the legality of the person drafting is also in question in a trust mill.  If the person is not a lawyer, he or she is in violation of Arizona law if they are not certified as an AZCLDP (Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer). 

You can identify these people. They will tell you a closing story that will make it seem like you will be missing out if you don't sign and pay them on their first call to your home or business.  (If they push you for a decision -- during a house call -- this approach alone should tip you off). 

If they "push", don't buy it!  They may be using abusive and illegal sales practices. Just show them the door when you feel pressured. It is all a selling technique (legal or otherwise) designed to separate your cash from your pocket...and into theirs!  Some may actually deliver a credible product in spite of the pressure selling, but others will not. 

And, a final warning -- you will easily "like" this person, at least initially because they come all "jacked up" with fun and emotion knowing if they can get you emotional, you will buy no matter how high the price is!  That's what makes them so dangerous to your wallet...

Hint:  Measure them in your mind, whether they are being mostly emotional or mostly logical.  A heavy on "emotions" presentation could be used to mislead you. But generally, a heavy logical presentation will not.

Second: Unusually Low Priced Trust Products

Low priced trusts are worth only as much as you pay for them usually.Recently, I have seen a derivative of the "Ugly" described above by some trust salesman coming in on the opposite end of the price point grid. These are trusts offered with an extremely low fee to prepare the trust portfolio.  Ads may brag about "lowest prices" or "lower than any attorney", etc. 

This approach may also be dangerous to your estate assets and suddenly un-employ your money advisors you may have used for years to help you manage your estate assets.  The salesman or financial planner in this scenario may be paying most of the trust cost or fees to the lawyer who prepares the documents for just a few hundred dollars.  The planner then uses the trust documents as a "loss leader", to get in your door, which forces him to recover payment for his time by selling you commissioned products you may not want or need. 

So, watch out for unusually low trust portfolio prices or someone pushing a trust only. (without the accompanying and extremely important portfolio documents also being included) 

The person could be legitimate, but if so, normally the delivered product will be nearly 100% boiler plate, simplified and short in page count. (therefore short in what contingencies are actually being covered in your situation) These cheap trusts are usually just produced on consumer level trust software programs a small law firm may be forced to use. Low costs trusts rarely will come from custom high end trust modules and software that must be used to get a more professional and definitive legal document result. And, many times, recent law changes are not reflected in the low cost "bargain" trust offers out there. A good way to test is to check their web site or literature and look for outdated estate tax law (it has changed drastically over the past 13 years!), or printed materials showing charts and graphs from past years. If you don't see the new 2013 estate tax law changes -- you most likely won't get them either in a cheap bargain trust offer, once delivered.

And, if a trust portfolio is offered to you really cheap, please remember that you could then be a "mark" for recovery on the salesman's end for his or her time spent with you.  Some of these folks in this group will do everything possible to gain your trust and then later stick it to you with high commission life insurance, IRA transfers to mutual funds with commissions, or annuity presentations -- all when they deliver your trust.  There is nothing wrong with these additional products or services.  But, when they get crammed down your throat when you don't really need them, or when you can't actually be "bettered" by making the changes, then there is something wrong with this group and their people and the techniques they use to trick you. Again, use extreme caution when talking to anyone pushing "low price" as the main selling point. My review of these trusts for clients that got "burned" was that low price - is the ONLY selling point in the finished work you get.  Many of my clients started with these, and upgraded to my professional services when they saw they didn't get much for their money! In some cases, they got a generic trust with little or no Arizona trust code in them! And the general power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney documents and living will, all reflect law from somewhere else!

Third: Steering Clear of Crooks Masquerading as Advisors

Bernie changed everthing in trusting others.This site is designed to give you the ammunition you need to be able to ask the right questions up front so you can steer clear of engaging the wrong firm or person to assist you with your living trust needs. Sadly, unscrupulous trust salesman use a living trust presentation to get at what they really want - commissions on as much of your investment money, no matter how much it damages you.  But, some even forego the quest to get commissions on your money. 

Some are out to take your money

from you!

Yes it's true.  You literally must "trust" the advisor you choose, and the firm you choose as well, to prepare your trust in confidence. Knowing how to tell the difference between who is trustworthy and who is not, will help guard you against becoming another financial victim here in Arizona. I'm going to give you some tips so your work is easier in this task and so you don't procrastinate any longer. A lot of people who come to this information site do end up drafting a trust soon after (we hope with us) and admit the site helped motivate them into taking action.

All it took was Bernie Madoff, to force us to rethink EVERYTHING about trusting advisors.  Though thousands of clients have made me their "trusted financial advisor" for the last 38 years -- good ol' Bernie has tossed a ring of dis-trust into the fire of my chosen financial professions.  Now, I too have to try harder to gain your trust in me and my services provided.  Consumers are more suspicious now.  Seeing numerous name brand stock brokerage firms go down into the ground in bankruptcy -- all make my job harder now. These negative events the past six years are not going to make you trust me or anyone else as much as you might have before they happened.  

Whatever the reasons for losing money or not getting what some company promised you, life goes on. Using the lame excuse you can't  trust anyone isn't going to hold so well if you leave your family hanging on the limb without proper estate planning documents when you become disabled or when you die.  There is no excuse for that.  I'm sorry, but if you have money and assets to protect, don't ignore this important part of financial planning.  Plan it out.  Just be more careful in who you choose to help you.

A Final Caution

A final caution is in order for your consumer protection.  You could be impressed with a trust salesman to the point, you will let down your guard. Even after years of trusting financial advisors who help you in managing your money, a few "slick" salesman will perform absolute malpractice in some of the investments they may push hard, the day they deliver your living trust and any other documents included with it. 

Some may even arrange for a notary, or are themselves a notary -- so you can execute the documents at your kitchen table.  In appreciation of the free notary services, you may very well feel obligated to take a look at their investment products.  Just like the ads that run in our local newspapers quoting CD rates on nothing more than annuity contracts quoting a "first year only" interest rate, (caution in investing, since full disclosure is proper in these ads on exactly what is really for sale), deceiving sales practices also take place by some unscrupulous salesman in these trust delivery sessions.

 IRA account, I am a licensed Realtor and a nationally known retirement consultant that directly allows me to draft important provisions and assist in the funding process as well.

My firm's Legacy Trust Portfolio is nearly 275 pages (married version), and would cost about $3,500 if prepared at the same professional level by a brand name Phoenix or Scottsdale law firm. The free funding services I give away at no cost (complimentary funding no matter how long it takes) and the complimentary gifts all new trust portfolio clients receive - also most likely will not be part of a lawyer prepared trust portfolio.  The value of having your trust consultant help you, step by step, and assist you in funding your trust, must be considered in your total costs.

Important Point:  Without proper funding help, your trust will most likely go through probate, no matter how much you pay for it!

Any trust we create for you, provides modern provisions for foreign travel or residency issues. And national travel or residency issues (2nd homes).  I also address the common situation of having financial records on a computer hard drive and authorize the spousal Trustee and subsequent Successor Trustee to use modern electronic means to administer the estate.  Recent talk about handling Facebook or Twitter type accounts after death is also covered in our newest edition!

FSI's portfolio of documents includes new Arizona Trust Code (ATC), HIPPA release (health information and privacy act) provisions, and follow all Arizona statutes where applicable in the individual documents making up the complete portfolio. And new federal 2013 estate tax provisions are carefully drafted in all new or update trusts my firm creates and delivers, for maximum protection against the federal estate tax due upon death for larger estates. Medicaid planning options for smaller estates is also covered.

If you are price shopping, be sure to compare "like kind" or you heirs may be disappointed in any bargain plan you put in force. You could also pay a fortune for a trust from a popular firm - yet not get your money's worth. I see trusts fail every month in my consulting work right along with their IRA getting hit with bad options all because the wrong advisors were trusted and failed to deliver what they promised.

Growing up in Iowa, I found out many years ago that most cheap things are not good and that most good things are not cheap.  As you shop, knowing you may look at "price" alone as your gauge, I want to give you the proper high standards my product is under, compared to competitors -- so you can compare fairly.   (National and local Arizona clients who have lost a loved one find large IRA accounts must pay the trust as beneficiary, which often is outdated and almost always, does not contain proper IRS rules language to handle the funds properly)

Believe me, I have seen in my practice when people die -- what was cheap in the way of estate planning documents on this end of life can become the most expensive on the other end.  It is like a double slap in the face of the heirs, when that happens.


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25+ Years of Practice Shows in the "Legacy Trust" Custom Trust Portfolio

Financial Strategies, Inc. celebrated it's 25th corporate year doing business in Arizona in 2015! (July 4th!!!), I am proud to have delivered hundreds of trust portfolios to Arizona consumers.  All without one complaint ever!  In fact, no professional complaints in multiple states of practice have ever been filed in my multiple financial occupations or practice for all 40+ years of total practice!  

HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT AS YOU NOW SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT FIRM TO DRAFT YOUR NEW TRUST  DOCUMENTS?  OR TO UPDATE A CURRENT TRUST?  OR TO HELP SETTLE  A TRUST NOW OR IN THE FUTURE?

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site, though deemed reliable and accurate, is solely the opinion and statements of the advisor profiled. Therefore, it should be considered "general" in nature and no action should be taken based on this information until such time your specific situation and circumstances can be reviewed and analyzed by competent and qualified tax, insurance, legal, and/or other financial advisors. This information is not intended, nor should be construed as legal advice. FSI can not and will not give you legal advice. If you need legal advice, we can refer you if you desire and request it. Founded in 1990, FSI is a long-term Financial Advisory and Arizona domiciled Corporation now providing services nationwide and in some foreign countries. Services profiled herein are available unrestricted to Arizona residents. Residents outside of Arizona are eligible for certain consulting services and to legal (lawyer) referrals by our firm when requested of us. For Arizona residents, communication with an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer (AZCLDP) are private and confidential but are not "privileged", such as they would be with an actual Lawyer.

Besides being a licensed  Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer, Mr. Anderson is also an Arizona Professional Accountant/Consultant  and registered IRS tax preparer and ERO (Electronic Return Originator) agent/firm. He also is an Arizona licensed Professional (Realtor®)/consultant (with Realty One Group) and a licensed Professional insurance agent and corporation for life, health or annuity sales. Lastly, he and his firm is an appointed representative for Royal Metals Group as a Professional Precious Metals consultant and sales advisor. 

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